Pieces of the Past
Artifacts, Documents, and Primary Sources
from Letchworth Park History

Memories of the old Cascade House

 The Cascade House was the famous hotel which stood for over a century near the east end of the Portage Bridge. Its heyday was long past when a young boy visited it with his Hawkeye Camera in 1960. Recently Ted Bartlett came across his old negatives which he took almost 50 years ago. He was kind enough to share the two images found below, along with his detailed memories of that once popular hotel.

Ted writes.....
"As for the Cascade House, a neighbor in Castile with the last name of Ebner was doing a lot of work for the lady in Buffalo who owned the Cascade House at the time. He removed wallpaper and gave samples of the red wallpaper to Mrs Williams at the Genesee Falls Inn, she had quite a bit of stuff from there (the whole pile of Cascade House stuff was lost in the 1972 flood) . He took me through and showed me all the nooks and crannies and roof walk and all the GAR graffiti that was at the roof level. I was fascinated and went back several times and drew up at home a floor plan of the place. In the process I met the son of the owner as he was selling a truck load of furniture (also red upholstery) and got to see several locked up rooms full of furniture. I remember being struck by the fact that they were removing what I now know were historic lighting fixtures, mostly on the ceilings and replacing them with fluorescent ones. The bar room was interesting with an ornately detailed 'L' shaped bar and remnants of the back bar in place. Behind the bar was a trap door in the floor that lead to a series of huge wooden coolers in the basement. And in the basement were tons of casks, bottles, pottery and the like. The ball room on the top story had a large coved plaster ceiling painted blue with tiny stars on it. The two (I think) chandeliers in the ballroom were still there. At the time I was amazed at the large space with all the little bedrooms off the ballroom. It was years before I figured that out! In two of the smaller bedrooms over the back wing were stacked all the records for the Cascade House, tons of paperwork. I remember looking at some of them including guest registers in big books. There was also a lot of hotel related equipment, china, and kitchen fixtures stored up there.

When I was in high school the Cascade House was a popular hang out and I was always amazed at the number of kids that passed through the place but did not damage it. Everyone seemed in awe of it. By that time all the interior furnishings were gone the chandeliers gone and most of the interior painted either yellow or white from the work done in the early 60s. The bar had been removed by that point and second rear addition with two-story outhouse removed as well as the east two-story porches. The local farmer used to routinely kick us out. The place was open and not locked. The next encounter was when my Dad called me at Geneseo to let me know that the Cascade House was on fire. Three of us drove over, not much left at that point, and the locals at Portage were really upset that the fire department had decided that since it was vacant they would not try an put the fire out but just let it burn down.

The images below were made from negatives made by 11 year old Ted Bartlett with his Hawkeye Camera in 1960.


For more information see

A Glimpse of the Portage Bridge

also see Images 47 and 56 in out Historical Photo Album.



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